Becoming Party Politicians

Eastern German State Legislators in the Decade following Democratization

Louise K. Davidson-Schmich

Contemporary European Politics and Society

Becoming Party Politicians addresses an intriguing issue that in one form or another faces all new democracies: how, and how successfully do such regimes acquire and socialize the political elites they need to lead them? In her exploration of that issue, and in her choice of members of east German state parliaments, Davidson-Schmich has written an interesting, well-researched, and well-executed study.” —Thomas A. Baylis, University of Wisconsin

“This study builds on earlier research on the implications of the German model of post-communist transition; it asks important questions about the effects of transferring western German political institutions on eastern German legislators’ behaviors. In its examination of the integration of two culturally distinct groups, Becoming Party Politicians has relevance well beyond the German case. Davidson-Schmich’s analysis is sharp, tightly organized and accessible to undergraduates as well as advanced scholars.” —Jennifer A. Yoder, Colby College

After the Berlin Wall fell, scholars flocked to eastern Europe to conduct extensive opinion research on citizens’ political attitudes and values. In eastern Germany, new post-communist political elites’ political attitudes and values were found to differ considerably from western German politicians’; these differences were expected to be hurdles to democratization. Yet only limited research has been done to determine whether eastern German politicians’ attitudes and values actually influenced their actions. Becoming Party Politicians fills this empirical void by comparing eastern and western German state legislators in the decade following unification. The book finds little evidence to suggest that the political attitudes and values of eastern parliamentarians have hindered their adaptation to united Germany’s political system.

Davidson-Schmich’s conclusions, based on personal interviews with state legislators and analysis of parliamentary debates between 1990 and 2002, not only shed light on German politics and the sources of legislator behavior; they also contribute to broader debates involving both the ability of western European political institutions to survive societal change and the influence of political institutions on the consolidation of democracy in post-communist settings.

LOUISE K. DAVIDSON-SCHMICH is assistant professor of political science at the University of Miami.

Reviews

“Contrasts the political attitudes and behavior of the state legislators in eastern and western Germany during the decade following the unification; finds little evidence that the easterners’ values have hindered their adaptation to the new system.” — The Chronicle of Higher Education

“A volume in the series Contemporary European Politics and Society compares the political attitudes and values of east and west German state legislators after German reunification. Implications for successful democratization and institutional resilience are discussed.” — Worldwide Political Science Abstracts